Mar 19, 2016 News
-Must have a united position on revoking radio licences
Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram, has decried the inconsistency of the Government’s position on
the granting of radio licences, following comments by Prime Minister and Minister of Information, Moses Nagamootoo. He also made it clear that Government’s first priority is to uphold the law.
Speaking about the radio licences which were granted by former President Bharrat Jagdeo to his associates and best friend just before he demitted office, Nagamootoo recently said that he would prefer to see new licences being issued as opposed to the revocation of others.
Noting that it seemed as though Nagamootoo’s own colleagues had problems with his statement, Ram stated that this is an issue on which Cabinet must have a united position.
“It also seems as though his own colleagues have problems, because (Minister Khemraj) Ramjattan clearly does not agree with him,” Ram stated. “And I would have thought this is something that Cabinet should have had a position on.”
“And we have the Attorney General,” he also noted. “You would have expected a consistent position would have been taken.”
Ram also noted that the radio spectrum was a technical issue. He said that instead of bringing some kind of clarity to the issue, Nagamootoo’s comments have introduced an element of confusion.
He also stated that since the issuance of the radio licences is currently under judicial consideration, inappropriate policy statements must be avoided.
Ram added, “For the Prime Minister to announce a completely new policy position is extremely surprising.”
. He made it clear that a Government’s first priority is to uphold the rule of the law.
“I have also heard this thing about legitimate expectation, that these people have spent money,” Ram noted.
“Legitimate expectation does not apply where there is an illegality. Of course an illegality has to be proven and that is exactly what is taking place in the court.”
“So what we ought to be doing is getting the matter in the court expedited and (for) the broadcasting authority to have a review of the National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU). They need to explore and expedite this matter.”
Just before Jagdeo demitted office in 2011, he approved several radio and cable television licences for mainly friends and his party members. In so doing, he sidelined applications from several prominent media houses including Kaieteur News, Stabroek News, Capitol News, HBTV Channel Nine and CNS Channel Six.
Jagdeo’s best friend, Dr. Ranjisinghi ‘Bobby’ Ramroop, received multiple frequencies. Also receiving a similar number of frequencies was The Mirror, a newspaper which belongs to the ruling party, and Telcor, a company with close links to the then Natural Resources Minister, Robert Persaud.
The disclosures of the licences, which also included approval for two cable TV operations, sparked court cases and several days of protests. They also attracted local and international condemnation.
Former President Ramotar had promised to review the issue but never did.
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